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Facebook, Microsoft, Epic Games cancel California conference plans over coronavirus

Attendees take a selfie in front of a Facebook sign at F8, the Facebook's developer conference, Tuesday, April 30, 2019, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar/TNS)

Concerns about the spreading coronavirus have prompted three major tech companies to cancel plans for upcoming conferences in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Microsoft announced Thursday it was pulling out of next month’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

Microsoft Game Stack said in a tweet that the decision came after “a close review of guidance by global health authorities and out of an abundance of caution.”

Facebook followed suit shortly after, announcing that it was canceling its annual F8 Developer Conference set for May 5-6 in San Jose.

“Given the growing concerns around COVID-19, we’ve made the difficult decision to cancel the in-person component of F8 2020,” the company said in a statement. “This was a tough call to make — F8 is an incredibly important event for Facebook and it’s one of our favorite ways to celebrate all of you from around the world — but we need to prioritize the health and safety of our developer partners, employees and everyone who helps put F8 on.”

By 11 a.m., Epic Games had announced that it, too, was pulling out of the Game Developers Conference, set for March 16-20.

“Regrettably, uncertainty around health concerns has made it unviable to send our employees, and so we have made the difficult decision to withdraw attendance,” the company said in a tweet.

Health officials have emphasized that the number of coronavirus cases in California remains low, and there are no signs of an outbreak. But health agencies said they are preparing for more cases as the virus spreads.

“Everyone’s concerned,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said.

San Francisco and Orange County have declared emergencies even though neither community has experienced any kind of virus outbreak.

The latest concern surrounds a patient in Northern California who was described by authorities as potentially the first in the U.S. to contract the disease through community spread rather than from contact with a person who has traveled to the global outbreak’s epicenter in China.

The individual is a resident of Solano County and is receiving medical care in Sacramento County, according to the state Department of Public Health.

UC Davis officials said the patient arrived at UC Davis Medical Center from another hospital Feb. 19 but was not tested until Sunday, four days later.

“Upon admission, our team asked public health officials if this case could be COVID-19. We requested COVID-19 testing by the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], since neither Sacramento County nor the California Department of Public Health is doing testing for coronavirus at this time. Since the patient did not fit the existing CDC criteria for COVID-19, a test was not immediately administered,” the medical center said in a statement.

“UC Davis Health does not control the testing process,” the statement noted.

On Sunday, the statement said, “the CDC ordered COVID-19 testing of the patient, and the patient was put on airborne precautions and strict contact precautions, because of our concerns about the patient’s condition.”

The positive test results came back Wednesday, the medical center said.


© 2020 the Los Angeles Times